Jane A. Dorn and Jo Carol Mitchell-Rogers: Vantage Points
Jane Dorn and Jo Carol Mitchell-Rogers are both professors in the Department of Art and Design at Anderson University (SC), long time friends, and fearless photo adventurers that roam the rural Southeast in search of eccentricities for their series Vantage Points. Dorn, who teaches graphic design, and Mitchell-Rogers who teaches foundations and drawing, scramble away from their very busy campus schedules during holidays and summers to destinations unknown. Their trips have no agenda; the general direction of the wind seems to lead them to a plethora of interesting places. They don’t travel highways, and maps and makeup are not allowed. Dorn and Mitchell-Rogers embrace chance in their travels and are open to all the oddities and even potentially unpleasant encounters within extremely rural southern settings, places most photographers wouldn’t dream to go alone. Armed with curiosity, mace, and cameras, Dorn and Mitchell-Rogers pry their way through broken fences and cracked doors to explore the photographic possibilities of forgotten things, places, and people.
The images from Vantage Points, paired together for the exhibition, are diverse conversations by two photographers shooting within the same vicinity and at the same time. Dorn, a commercially successful graphic designer, and Mitchell-Rogers, a trained painter, see similar things differently, creating a complementary dialogue; each artist’s image expands on the other. Both women have shown their photographs independently and in other forms such as painting and mixed media, but when viewing the images from Vantage Points side by side, the composite vision becomes a compelling dialogue of contrasts and parallels. When seeing the exhibition in person, I have personally tried to filter my view to “painter” and “designer” to decipher which image belongs to whom, and this method has failed me several times. Conversely, each artist surprises me with a fresh take on the subject that departs from a set style, ultimately creating a series that is as unified and individual as the artists themselves.
Both born and raised below the Mason-Dixon line, we are drawn to the unique culture of the rural South and embrace its idiosyncrasies and oddities. In fact, the more odd and “colorful” the better. For the past eight or so years, we have been roaming around together – armed with camera gear, Steel-toed boots, and mace – in search of roadside rarities, holes in chain link fences, cracked doors, and interesting imagery. The best days are the ones that are wide open. The only criteria are no agenda, no highways, no map, and a willingness to run from the unexpected. The more remote and full of surprises, the better the odds of encountering true southern vernacular in the form of people, places, and things.
Our adventures have resulted in independent bodies of work that we’ve both exhibited in various venues, and we’ve often discussed the ways in which our work is similar and dissimilar. We are intrigued by the fact that we can spend the same amount of time at the same location, yet come away with decidedly different takes on it. Thus far, roaming together with cameras has produced a wide range of photographic images, mixed media pieces, and paintings.
JANE A. DORN is an Associate Professor of Art in the Department of Art & Design at Anderson University. Before joining the Anderson University faculty, Jane was the Founding Partner and Creative Director of Copia Design for nearly 20 years. Her design work has received numerous awards at local, regional, national and international levels.
Jane joined the faculty at Anderson University in 2009 and brought with her a rich professional career and a desire to challenge and inspire a new generation of graphic designers. In addition to her design work, she maintains an active exhibition record as a fine art photographer. Jane’s photography was recently profiled on Brainpickings, a curated blog by Maria Popova, with a readership of 1.2 million throughout the world. Jane received her BFA in Graphic Design from Louisiana State University, and an MA in Graphic Design from the Savannah College of Art and Design.
JO CAROL MITCHELL-ROGERS is a Professor of Art and Chair of the Department of Art & Design at Anderson University. She earned a BFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of Georgia and the MFA, also in Painting and Drawing, from Clemson University. Like many teachers, Jo Carol is a perpetual student, later earning a Ph.D. in Art Education from the University of Georgia.
She has been recognized on campus and in the state for her teaching excellence as the recipient of the Boles Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Governor’s Distinguished Professor Citation, and as the SC Art Education Association Higher Education Art Educator of the Year. A member of the ArtBomb Studios in Greenville, SC, Jo Carol maintains an active exhibition record as a painter and photographer. Her work has been included in over 80 invitational solo and group exhibitions, over 50 juried shows, and is included in numerous private collections throughout the country.
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